While the stressors of this week touch us all, I am proud of our community for exemplifying our Benedictine Values. Emotions from the election, rising COVID numbers around the country, as well as the personal stressors we all have could bring us down, however as I have looked around our campus I see our community continually showing respect and care for others.
Be sure to take time for self-care, especially during these times of unrest and uncertainty. Our Benedictine heritage teaches us that balance in life is a very important aspect to our overall mental, physical and spiritual well-being. I encourage you to take time to reflect on how you can practice balance in your life and how the gifts of Grace and Gratitude might become central to our practice of balance as well.
Updates to Share:
COVID Testing before the holiday
We strongly encourage all to follow MDH and CDC guidelines when it comes to gatherings of any kind over the holidays. As a reminder, the MN Department of Health is offering COVID saliva testing at a number of locations throughout the state, including at the DECC in Duluth. With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, if you have plans to see loved ones or friends, you might consider getting tested a few days prior to mitigate the spread of COVID.
Our weekly COVID report indicates we are seeing an uptick in testing and cases after a significant drop two weeks ago. Like the state, and particularly the northern half of the state, COVID cases are on the rise. Please take every precaution to stay as safe as possible. We have been blessed with a streak of warm weather this week across the state; however, we know what's coming! Please follow the COVID guidelines and our Community Pledge to help all of us stay safe.
Degree Works Update
The College is in the process of implementing Degree Works, a software focused on degree planning for students, faculty, and advisors. Initial feedback has been very positive: students appreciate the ease of use and access to information and faculty and staff have remarked on its power to transform the advising experience. Everyone has been happy with the increased transparency of requirements and empowering students about course decisions.
I want to thank Roberta Oberpriller for leading this massive undertaking and the entire implementation team for a job well done. I also want to thank all the faculty, staff and students for their use of this system, including the training that has occurred to assist with its implementation. The next step in the project will be the student education planner (SEP) which will allow a "dashboard" approach to understanding progress toward degree visually for students.
IT Security Update
On Thursday, October 30th, IT Security detected attempts to exploit a security flaw in the underlying software of Banner Self-Service. Moving quickly, they prevented any further probes of our network from the known bad actors, ensured no changes were made, and then applied a previously scheduled patch to fix the flaw. They were able to effect this change in about three hours from the time they were alerted to a potential vulnerability to the time the patch was in place. In addition, the "defense-in-depth" architecture employed for enterprise security worked exactly as designed; the malefactors were not able to execute any commands or access any data.
The analogy we've been using is "they were able to make it on the porch and ring the doorbell, but not able to get inside the door".
Kudos to the IT team and in particular Mike Hanson, Christine Pascek and Will Rossing for moving quickly and ensuring our institutional security is maintained. Any questions or further detail can be directed to Ben Adams, Chief Information Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
National American Indian Heritage month
Earlier this week you received a message from Native Studies reminding us November is National American Indian Heritage month. There are many activities and events being held here at the College and in the broader community. Hopefully you can find a few to participate in.
New Zoom backgrounds available
We have had requests for images for use during zoom meetings. A number of new Zoom backgrounds based on community input are now available. There are a mix of generic and Duluth-based photos. These can also be used for conferences and other presentations.
Community Reflections on Hope
Campus Ministry has been sharing a series of reflections on light and hope by St. Scholastica Community Members. Read past reflections here. We are grateful for the members of our community who have made contributions and are making the light of hope shine brighter in our community. If you are interested in writing a reflection, please contact Campus Ministry at email@example.com.
As a reminder, faculty and staff can use their Saints Shop discount online. All you need to do is go to shop.css.edu and enter the discount code CSSF&S at checkout. You can choose to pick up your order in the store or have it shipped.
Also, we've added more merchandise to our 30% clearance, so if you are in the Duluth area, come to the store and check it out! (Your CSSF&S discount will not apply to these items.) And, we are fully stocked on facemasks, including a new black option, which sells for just $4.50! We sell these masks at cost.
Decreasing the stigma of mental health with Seize the Awkward
Counseling services has partnered with WELL U to bring the Seize the Awkward campaign to our campus next week in order to decrease the stigma around mental health. The campaign encourages young adults to embrace the awkwardness of silence and use this moment as an opportunity to reach out to a friend, break the silence and offer support, reassurance, and resources.
WELL U has posters, videos and social media materials that can be posted during the week. Counseling Services has also created a guided discussion, which can be used to facilitate and open conversations. Complete the following form to be provided videos, the discussion guide and resources: Seize the Awkward Campaign: GUIDED DISCUSSION. For more information visit seizetheawkward.org or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
In the News
Fox 21 Local News recently did a story on how the College's Physical Therapy students have been dealing with hybrid learning. Read about what members of the program have to say about this change.
WDIO News at Nine did a story on our Drive-In Movie night last Friday at the Duluth campus, which was the culmination of our Harry Potter Week. Learn more about the magical event.
And, WDIO also ran into St. Scholastica's own Lady Liberty at the polls on Tuesday. Dean of Students, Megan Perry-Spears spent the day enthusiastically driving students to vote!
Have a safe and relaxing weekend, enjoy what might be the final warm days of fall!
Take care, and blessings to you all.